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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Advanced Witchcraft: Go Deeper, Reach Further, Fly Higher by Edain McCoy (Llewellyn Publications) In the beginning everything is fresh and new. Learning how to cast a circle, work magick, and honor the God and Goddess on esbats and sabbats can be exhilarating. But once you've mastered the basics of Witchcraft comes the real challenge of living your faith every moment of every day. Living as a Witch is knowing that you are the magick.

Advanced Witchcraft doesn't contain any "Wicca 101" informa­tion—it assumes that you're already familiar with the nuts and bolts of the Craft. Instead, this book challenges you to think critically about your beliefs and practices, what they mean to you, how they've changed, and where you're going. Along the way you will also learn many techniques for intermediate and advanced Witches:

  • meeting your shadow
  • advanced warding and psychic self-defense
  • power animals, familiars, and shapeshifters
  • dark witchery
  • working the labyrinth and the maze
  • advanced tree spirituality
  • advanced augury
    and divination
  • magick and rival using the fine arts of storytelling, dance, music, art, and drama
  • the art of Wishcraft
  • the healing arts
  • spirits and lost souls
  • banishing and closing portals
  • surviving the dark night of the soul

Cautio Criminalis, or a Book on Witch Trials by Friedrich Spee Von Lagenfeld, translated by Marcus Hellyer (University of Virginia Press) In 1631, at the epicenter of the worst excesses of the European witch-hunts, Friedrich Spee, a Jesuit priest, published the Cautio Criminalis, a book speaking out against the trials that were sending thousands of innocent people to gruesome deaths. Spee, who had himself ministered to women accused of witchcraft in Germany , had witnessed firsthand the twisted logic and brutal torture used by judges and inquisitors. Combined, these harsh prosecutorial measures led inevitably not only to a confession but to denunciations of supposed accomplices, spreading the circle of torture and execution ever wider.

Driven by his priestly charge of enacting Christian charity, or love, Spee sought to expose the flawed arguments and methods used by the witch-hunters. His logic is relentless as he reveals the contradictions inherent in their arguments, showing there is no way for an innocent person to prove her innocence. And, he questions, if the condemned witches truly are guilty, how could the testimony of these servants and allies of Satan be reliable? Spee’s insistence that suspects, no matter how heinous the crimes of which they are accused, possess certain inalienable rights is a timeless reminder for the present day.

The Cautio Criminalis is one of the most important and moving works in the history of witch trials and a revealing documentation of one man’s unexpected humanity in a brutal age. Written by Marcus Hellyer, Assistant Professor for the History of Science at Brandeis University , this accessible translation from the Latin makes it available to English-speaking audiences for the first time.

The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton (Oxford University Press) brings witchcraft out of the shadows. The Triumph of the Moon is the first full-scale study of the only religion England has ever given the world--modern pagan witchcraft, otherwise known as Wicca. Meticulously researched, it provides a thorough account of an ancient religion that has spread from English shores across four continents.

For centuries, pagan witchcraft has been linked with chilling images of blood rituals, ghostlike druids, and even human sacrifices. But while Robert Hutton explores this dark side of witchery, he stresses the positive, reminding us that devotion to art, the natural world, femininity, and the classical deities are also central to the practice of Wicca. Indeed, the author shows how leading figures in English literature--W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, and Robert Graves, just to name a few--celebrated these positive aspects of the religion in their work, thereby softening the public perception of witchcraft in Victorian England. From cunning village folk to freemasons and from high magic to the black arts, Hutton chronicles the fascinating process by which actual Wiccan practices evolved into what is now a viable modern religion. He also presents compelling biographies of Wicca's principle figures, such as Gerald Gardner, who was inducted into a witch coven at the age of 53, and recorded many clandestine rituals and beliefs.

Ronald Hutton is known for his colorful, provocative, and always thoroughly researched studies on original subjects. This work is no exception. It will appeal to anyone interested in witchcraft, paganism and alternative religions.

I had the good luck to have worked with Starhawk in the year before her first book on Wicca appeared, THE SPIRAL DANCE. I knew it would be a defining work because at that time there was little in print that described current Wiccan practice. Soon after its publication, if memory serves me right, the Reclaiming Collective was founded, attempting to create a living model in non-patriarchal political power and interpersonal relationships. It has been, as viewed from the outside, an ongoing experiment in applied feminist ethics, anarchist principles of consensus building and activist confrontational political witness.

Now some 20 years into the experiment we have some subtle reflections on the practice of magic as personal and collective transformation hung upon a common fairytale. Unlike many works on Wicca this work has more implied in its practice than what is explicitly stated. TWELVE WILD SWANS (paperback) will be considered a benchmark in the emerging and ever morphing traditions of neopagan magic practice. It is a good book to study and adapt to one’s own coven’s magic practice. TWELVE WILD SWANS (paperback) is much appreciated and highly recommended for repeated readings.

Daughters of the Goddess: Studies of Healing, Identity and Empowerment by Wendy Griffin(Altamira Press) A collection of original research and essays examining the Goddess Movement in its many facets, Daughters of the Goddess explores the ways women in the United States and Britain have abandoned the Western patriarchal religions and have embraced a spirituality based in a celebration of the Goddess and the female body as sacred text. Among the first scholars to publish research in this area, editor Wendy Griffin brings together a group of academics and practitioners who offer a wide-ranging study of the movement, from a critique of the patriarchal cult of princess Diana to a celebration of bellydance as a form of spiritual expression. Other essays not only trace women's myriad spiritual journeys but also examine the creation of personal rituals that have led to healing and a new sense of identity for many women. An innovative volume ideal for classes in women's studies, religious studies and the sociology of religion, Daughters of the Goddess also serves as an invaluable guide for anyone wishing to gain a thorough introduction to this rapidly growing religious and cultural movement.

Contents: About the Contributors; Introduction by Wendy Griffin
Chapter 1 The Roots of Feminist Spirituality, by Cynthia Eller Chapter 2 Woven Apart and Weaving Together: Conflict and Mutuality in Feminist and Pagan Communities in Britain, by Ann-Marie Gallagher Chapter 3 The Mutable Goddess: Particularity and Eclecticism within the Goddess Public, by Marilyn Gottschall Chapter 4 Crafting the Boundaries: Goddess Narrative as Incantation, by Wendy Griffin Chapter 5 False Goddesses: Thealogical Reflections on the Patriarchal Cult of Diana, by Melissa Raphael Chapter 6 High Priestess: Mother, leader, Teacher, by Helen A. Berger Chapter 7 Thriving, Not Simply Surviving: Goddess Spirituality and Women's recovery from Alcoholism, by Tanice G. Foltz Chapter 8 Feminist Witchcraft: A Transformatory Politics, by Susan Greenwood Chapter 9 Healing in Wicca, by Vivianne Crowley Chapter 10 The Goddess Dances: Spirituality and American Women's Interpretation of Middle Eastern Dance, by Janice C. Crosby Chapter 11 The Power of Ritual, by Ruth Rhiannon Barrett Chapter 12 Women Mysteries of the Ancient Future Sisterhood, by Vajra Ma Chapter 13 Technicians of the Sacred, by Layne Redmond

Mysteries of Demeter: Rebirth of the Pagan Way by Jennifer Reif (Weiser) Jennifer Reif has created a practical manual for experiencing the Rites and Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone. Her presentation depicts Demeter as the many-faceted Great Mother who gives birth to all of life; Persephone is the light-giving and loving force that helps transform Plouton and the spirits of the Underworld. This book sings the song of the transcendent power of love and eternal renewal in the cycle of life and death. Reif provides a great deal of historical information to lay the groundwork for the Demetrian Wheel of the Year. Like the Wheel of the Year in Celtic Wicca, Demetrian paganism contains a cycle of seasonal rituals. The Holy Mother and Daughter are the focus, and lead us into the center of the Mysteries which teach us that Earth and all of life are sacred.

In this lovely book, Reif clearly describes the rituals and provides sacred prayers, chants, and recipes for sacred food. She gives guidance for establishing a Temple of Demeter and Persephone, whether you are worshiping alone or with a group, and includes information on ritual garments, oil lamps, and other accouterments. As the penultimate offering to the Great Mother, and a practice of Demetrian spirituality, Reif teaches you how to raise and harvest sacred grain. Through the myth and rituals of Demetrian paganism, the beauty of self-divinity rises within the soul. In this striking presentation of power and beauty, Demeter's ancient Festivals and Mysteries are made available to us once again.


It was 1989 and I was right in the middle of Professor Shirley St. Leon's art history class, when I somehow ran headlong into Demeter and Persephone. The Celtic side of Goddess religion had held my interest for some time, but this was different. I'm not completely sure why I became so attracted to the subject of Demetrian Paganism. Perhaps I was drawn to the Holy Mother and Daughter because I sought an all-embracing and powerful Mother Goddess. Or perhaps I sought the image of a tender-hearted maiden, who would eventually transform into a queen. In the end, I found these sacred images, but I discovered much more along the way.

My journey into Demeter's temple began when I saw a photograph of the east-pediment sculptures of the Parthenon, a reconstruction from the Acropolis Museum in Athens. These exquisite images of the Greek Goddesses and Gods awoke something that had been sleeping within me. I saw tremendous grace and beauty in the figures, but there was another element present, something that had nothing to do with physical appearances. The figures of Demeter and Persephone seemed to emerge from the rest, calling me with very powerful voices, saying, "Look at me, find me, know me. . . :' I became intensely curious. Who were these Goddesses? What were their characteristics, beyond those found in common, general descriptions? I had to know.

I sought out books on the subject, anticipating each book as eagerly as the advent of some new culinary feast. And as I studied, their ancient religion began to rise up before me like a ghost out of the past. I felt that soon I was to discover something ethereal and precious. My spirit on fire, I became driven, like some insane banshee, to search out clues to unravel the mystery.

As I read, apparent images of the past began to show themselves. Whether they were memories of a past life or simply the musings of an active imagination, they were quite startling: visions of helping to put on festivals, of walking between the buildings of the sanctuary on various errands, of seeing exquisite statuary, of having an audience with a priestess high above me in rank, and much more. I saw these all as precious moments of beauty in a spiritual world that felt as though it would have no end. Then there were the visions of a glorious temple being destroyed-of men on horseback riding in, smashing statuary, taking precious objects, and setting fire to draperies and to carved wood decoration. Whether this was fantasy or memory, within a few months I was placed firmly on the road of discovery.

Because the myth of Demeter is based on a yearly agricultural cycle, I spent several seasons raising grain (with accompanying red field poppies) in the Mediterranean coastal climes of southern California. Learning about the Holy Mother and Daughter through the planting of grain revealed much about the internal life of the myth. Nature became an instructress, leading me to observe the Goddesses and Gods in their most primal elements of earth, seed, rain, sun, green growth, flowering, harvest, and fallow time.

The first evidence of Demetrian Paganism is found in the 15th century B.C.E. in Eleusis, Greece, where its first religious structure took shape. By the fifth century C.E., the Eleusinian temple to Demeter was destroyed. Its marble was used in the building of bridges, wells, and Christian churches. The exact theology and ritual practices of the temple were lost. My personal quest is now to bring forward a full interpretation of Demeter's rites, seasonal festivals, and mysteries.

It has been a long journey from my initial curiosity about Demeter to the completion of this book. Many years of research have finally resulted in a re-creation of the mystery religion of the Greek Goddess Demeter. From ancient Greece, to Rome, to North Africa and Macedonia, Demeter's temples were once important centers of Goddess worship. I believe that these centers presented a religion that celebrated, not only the Goddess and her seasonal themes of life, death, and rebirth, but also the mystery and divinity of the soul.

While the Holy Mother and Daughter are the focus of the myth and rites, many other Gods and Goddesses are also included. This book presents a rich composite telling of the myth and explains its mystical themes. The background and historical information given prepare the way for Demeter's yearly cycle of festivals and mysteries. By experiencing the Demetrian Wheel-of-the-Year holidays, the reader can experience the archetypal forces of life and nature. Nature is sacred, containing magical forces that may be recognized, not only as guiding divinities, but as powers that live within us.

Every moment of our lives is a part of the sacred drama, the foreword moving spiral of life, death, and rebirth. The Goddesses and Gods of Demeter's myth are powerful forces within this sacred drama. Through them and their mythic relationships, we may come to understand our own relationships to the natural and spiritual worlds. The rituals of Demetrian Paganism tell us a little about ourselves, our origins, and our relationship to the natural world. We can step into the myth and its rites, and learn something of the nature of the soul. The natural world then becomes the setting in which this jewel of a religion takes its place.

In the Circle: Crafting the Witches' Path by Elen Hawke (Llewellyn) Daffodils dance in a chilly spring breeze . . . a butterfly alights on a sunny marigold . . . sleepy autumn energy moves through an apple tree . . . in a winter garden, a redstart greedily strips berries from holly. And so the seasons rise and fall, the wheel of the year turns, and the sacred circle of birth, death, and regeneration goes on.

This simple and beautiful guide combines author Elen Hawke's personal accounts of sabbats and moon rites with clear, commonsense instructions that make witchcraft accessible to anyone who wishes to enter the circle.

Journey through the moon's phases and the eight seasonal festivals; gain an understanding of Goddess and God; learn how to build a shrine, perform ritual, and collect or make magical tools. Evocative and poetic, In the Circle will take you deeper into your inner core, the place where you can connect to the spirit of Nature and to your own innate knowledge.

Elen Hawke (England) has been a professional astrologer for twenty-seven years and a tarot reader for ten. She divides her time between healing and teaching witchcraft, meditation, and chakra work. She is a Wiccan initiate, a Circlework graduate from the House of the Goddess, and a member of the Pagan Federation. She has one grown daughter and son.

Witchcraft Today: An Encyclopedia of Wiccan and Neopagan Traditions by James R. Lewis (ABC-CLIO) The word "witch" calls up the image of a cackling crone hunched over a cauldron or riding through the air on a broomstick and putting evil curses on people. It may come as a surprise that groups of otherwise ordinary people refer to themselves as witches and demand recognition as members of a religion. This reference work presents a concise survey of this fascinating movement, charts its development, and offers A-to-Z coverage.

This introduction that explains the origin and history of contemporary Wiccan and Neopagan beliefs but rarely beyond the surface of things. Biographies of important people are either omitted or buried in other topics. Such as Starhawk bing discussed under the coven Reclaiming. Other important wiccans and proto wiccans and merely metioned and biogeaphical information is lacking. As for facts Lewis usually gets the chronology right even if he betrays Gardnarian biases throughout. A chronology is included that details the development of these modern religions. A documents section reprints texts important to the central belief system of Wiccans and Neopagans, including the text of "Charge of the Goddess," and a bibliography and index complete this timely source. Consult this work whether you need to know the characteristics of Wicca; the difference between Celtic, Alexandrian, and Blue Star traditions; the meaning of "skyclad;" the work of Emanuel Swedenborg; or the origins of Tarot.

Contents: Preface Introduction Witchcraft Today: An Encyclopedia of Wiccan and Neopagan Traditions
Abramelin Adept African Religions Air Alexandrian Tradition American Tradition Amulet Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rosae Crucis (AMORC) Ankh Anointing Oil Aradia Asatru Aspecting Aspergillum Astral Plane Astral Projection Astrology Athame Aura Aurum Solis Bale-Fire Baltic Tradition Baphomet Bells Beltane Bibliomancy Binah Binding Blessed Be Blue Star Tradition Bolline Book of Shadows Brigid Broom Burning Times Cabala Cakes and Wine California Gardnerian (CalGard) Tradition Candles Candomble Cast Cauldron Celtic Tradition Censer Cernunnos Cerridwen Chakras ``Charge of the Goddess,'' Charms Chesed Chokhmah Church and School of Wicca Church of All Worlds Church of Circle Wicca Circle, Magic Co-Masonry Cone of Power Conjure Cords Correspondences Coven Covenant of the Goddess Covenstead Cowan Craft, The Craft Laws Craft Name Crone Cross-Quarter Days Cup Curses Degrees Demons Deosil Diana Dianic Wicca/Goddess Religion Divination Dowsing Drawing Down the Moon Druids Earth (element) Elders Elementals Elements Enochian Magic Eostar Equinox Esbat Evocation and Invocation Exorcism Extrasensory Perception (ESP) Fairies Fairy Tradition Familiars Family Tradition Festivals Fetch Fetish Fire Fivefold Kiss Flying Fortune-Telling Fraternitas Rosae Crucis Freemasonry Gaia Garter, Order of the Gateway Circle Gematria Genie Ghosts Gnomes Gnosticism Goddess(es) Grail Graves, Robert Great Rite Green Man Grimoire Gris-gris Grounding Grove Guardians Handfasting Healing Hecate Heresy, Heretic Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (and its offshoots) Herne the Hunter Hex Hex Signs Hieros Gamos High Priest(ess) Hiving Off Hocus Pocus Hod Holly King Horned God Horseshoe Hypnosis I Ching Ifa Incantation Incense Incubus and Succubus Initiation Inner Planes Isis Jewelry and Degrees of Initiation Jewish Wicca, Jewish Pagans Karma Keepers of the Ancient Mysteries (KAM) Tradition Kether Knife, White Knot Magic Kundalini Levi, Eliphas Levitation Leys Libation Lilith Lineage Litha Lithomancy Love Spells Lughnasad Lycanthropy Mabon Macumba Magic Magus Maiden Malkuth Man in Black Mathers, Samuel Liddell May Pole McFarland Dianic Tradition Meditation Meet Moon Murray, Margaret Music, Pagan Mysteries Mythology Names of Power Necromancy Nemeton Netzach New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn New Thought Movement Norse Neopagans North, Dolores Numerology Oak King Odinists Ointments Old (name) Oneiromancy Oracle Ordo Templi Orientis (and its offshoots) Orishas Pagan Academic Networking Pagan Way Palmistry Parapsychology Pendulum Pentagram Philtre Polarity Possession Power Doctor Power Spots Powwowing Quarter Days Quarters Queen Radical Faeries Reclaiming Tradition Reincarnation Rings Rite, Ritual Runes Sabbats Sacrifice Salamanders Salem Witches Salt Samhain Sanctuaries and Temples Santeria Satanism Scourge Scrying Seal of Solomon (hexagram) 1734 Tradition Sex and Sex Magic Shamanism Shapeshifting Sidhe Sigil Skyclad Solitary Solstices Sorcery Spells Spirit Spiritism Spiritualism Summerland Susan B. Anthony Coven Sword Sylphs Talismans Tantra Tarot Tasseomancy Theology/Thealogy Theosophy Thirteen Threefold Law of Return Tiferet Tools, Witches' Tradition Tree Calendar Trees Undines Ursa Maior Vodun Wand Watchtowers Water Wheel of the Year Wicca Wiccan Rede Wiccaning Wild Hunt Withershins Women's Spirituality Movement Work, Working Yesod Yule Resources Appendix A: Chronology Appendix B: Documents Index

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